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Awards and honors

The government of France has bestowed a prestigious decoration on John T. Preston, MIT's director of technology development for his work bringing together French and American high-tech companies to promote joint ventures and collaboration.

In a ceremony at the French consulate in Boston on March 22, Mr. Preston was named Chevalier of the National Order of Merit.

The award was accompanied by a citation read by Patrice Paoli, the Consul General.

It traced Mr. Preston's career and said that in his field of excellence, how to convert technology into business, he had "played an important role in prior operations with France. In awarding you the Ordre National de Merite at the level of Chevalier, the French government acknowledges your contribution to the development of relations between France and the US in a very crucial sector."

Dr. Merritt Roe Smith, director of the Program in Science, Technology and Society and the first holder of the Leverett Howell Cutten and Willliam King Cutten Professorship in the History of Technology, has been invited to give the opening lecture at the foundation celebration of the Netherlands Graduate School in Science, Technology and Modern Culture at the University of Limburg.

The new school, founded on January 1 this year, is a joint enterprise of three Dutch universities with major research groups in the field of social, cultural, historical and philosophical studies in science and technology.

Edward A. Miguel, a junior in economics, has been elected a 1995 Truman Scholar. Only 70 students from about 50 institutions received Truman Scholarships in the current round of competition. The winners were selected from among 763 nominees from 378 colleges.

Phi Beta Kappa has announced that Dr. Shafrira Goldwasser, professor of computer science and engineering, will be one of 12 Visiting Scholars for 1995-96. The Visiting Scholars travel to universities and colleges that have Phi Beta Kappa chapters, spending two days on each campus. During each visit the Scholar is expected to meet with undergraduates on a more or less informal footing, to participate in classroom lectures and seminars, and to give an address open to the academic community. The new Visiting Scholars will make about 100 such visits.

Professor Goldwasser previously received a National Science Foundation Young Investigators Award and the first Godel Prize in theoretical computer science for her work on zero-knowledge interactive proofs. She edited Advances in Cryptology: Proceedings in Crypto 88.

Professor Lotte L. Bailyn, T Wilson Professor of Management, who appeared in this column last month as the newly named Matina S. Horner Distinguished Visiting Professor at Radcliffe College for 1995-97, will not be entirely absent from the Sloan School during the appointment. She plans to divide her time 50-50 between MIT and Radcliffe. She is on campus this week but is spending much of this semester at Imperial College in London, where she can be reached at .

Dr. Carl V. Thompson II, professor of electronic materials in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been elected first vice president and president-elect for 1996 of the Materials Research Society. One of the society's newly elected council members is Dr. Merton C. Flemings, Toyota Professor of Materials Processing and former head of the department. In addition, an MIT graduate student, Daniel D. Lee, has received one of the society's 13 graduate student awards presented to young scientists at the group's fall meeting in Boston. The graduate student awards are intended to honor and encourage graduate students whose academic achievements and current materials research display a high order of excellence and distinction.

Professor Thompson, a materials science and engineering graduate of MIT in 1976, received the SM and PhD degrees in applied physics from Harvard University. He then returned to MIT as an IBM postdoctoral associate in the Research Laboratory of Electronics. He joined the faculty in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in 1983. He spent the 1990-91 academic year at Cambridge University as a UK Science and Engineering Research Council visiting fellow.

Recently praised by The Times Higher Education Supplement as a journal that "pursues subjects in a scientifically vigorous manner," MIT Press' Presence Teleoperators and Virtual Environments has now won a prestigious Professional and Scholarly (PSP) Award. The Association of American Publishers's PSP Division annually presents such awards to excellent and innovative books and journals produced by its professional and scholarly publisher-members.

Presence's Volume 3, Number 3, Summer 1994, specifically won the distinction as Best Single Issue of a Journal published in 1994. As indicated in the Editorial Notes of the issue, Presence's editors prepared this special edition because they "regard the task of applying virtual [reality] environment and telerobotic technology to [persons with] disabilities both very worthwhile and very challenging."

Gang Wu has been awarded a $5,000 prize for producing one of the top four doctoral theses last year in Canada.

Dr. Wu, now a postdoctoral fellow at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Laboratory, won a natural science and engineering research doctoral prize for outstanding work in the field of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy.

NMR spectroscopy is a tool used by scientists from a variety of fields to study the structure and dynamics of molecules. Dr. Wu was particularly interested in the three-dimensional properties of molecules. "No one had really studied the properties using NMR," Dr. Wu said. "I just wanted to know what was going on."

Dr. Wu conducted his award-winning research at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. He arrived there four years ago to take a job as an operator in the chemistry department's NMR center. While working full time, he began work part-time towards his PhD.

"Gang worked on this day and night," said Rod Wasylishen, Dr. Wu's thesis advisor. "He had a real passion for it."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 5, 1995.

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